Here’s the Thing
There’s a very real chance that I’m not cut out for this. I’ve suspected it all along (secretly) but as we kept getting sucked deeper and deeper into the romance of country living and animal husbandry I realized – oh crap it’s too late. If I’m being honest then I’ll admit that I felt a sick thud at the bottom of my stomach the minute we signed the loan papers to build the house. Although that was probably just some sort of premonition of the building misery to come, it was more likely due to the fact that I know I’m a phony and realized pretty soon I’d be found out.
If you know me at all, then you know I talk a big game. That is to say, the appearance of confidence is about the most important thing for me to present to the world (and to receive). When I was 10 years old, my mom said, “Shake my hand, Jenna.” So I did. She then said, “Try it again, but do it like you mean it.” I’m sure more profound moments have passed between us, but I will never forget that lesson. That handshake’s your first and best introduction – do it like you mean it. I try to approach all my endeavors that way; full throttle and all-in. That’s all nice and ambitious if you can prove your confidence. As it turns out, the least important thing for me is follow-through. And here’s the thing: it’s an important characteristic when it comes to kick-starting this joint.
It is an understatement to say that the past few weeks have “tested” me. We’ve had a nasty bout of illness and poaching sweep through our little place. The big hens have (hopefully) recovered from a respiratory ailment that caused bubbles to spring forth from their eyes, ooze to drip from their mouths, and a poo the color of vermillion. Stop! Picture it! You got that in your head? Couple that with the coyote killings and couple THAT with the rogue dog who dined on my two favorite baby chickens Saturday morning (he came back for seconds after I chased him off. WTF?!). If you live in the country, it’s important for you to know that, while they’ll run away, dogs just aren’t that convinced you’re scary if you run behind them waving your arms about your head, tripping over rocks, shouting obscenities, and throwing sticks. An effective dog deterrent, this is not.
|Chicks or “wild dog lunch”|
But it’s the beloved little goats that have caused the most anguish, disgust, and self-doubt. In the last week, I learned to neuter a goat and dodge projectile, missile-like goat feces – the combination of which caused my back to finally flip me the bird and depart from this earthly life. Since then, I’ve been hobbling around without the use of my lower back, cleaning goat bottoms and the sides of goats and puppies who received direct hits from the projectiles. I’ve had to pay particular attention to our sad little Willy Boots who’s feeling poorly since I put a band above his scrotum (It was less fun to perform than it sounds – promise!). Yesterday, while finally enjoying a glass of wine in the front pasture after a day full of pain meds and animal care, Boo snuck up behind me and grabbed a hunk of skin from my arm. I am proud to share that I handled it with the usual grace and elegance for which I am known – tossed my wine at him while kicking him with my left foot, then fell over in pain and the realization that you can’t kick a donkey without the use of your lower back.
|Willy asks, “Why me?”|
While I was on all fours in the pasture, hands in a pile of manure, it hit me: I’m not supposed to be here!! That is why things have turned so suddenly sour! I am supposed to be sitting in a condo in downtown Austin, drinking a martini on my balcony, stroking my house plant named Kitty. I’m supposed to be getting my hair did, my nails trimmed, things waxed, with the condo service cleaning my toilets and emptying my trash cans. In this life, I eat sushi 5 nights a week and drink power shakes after my morning ride on the elliptical machine. My life is supposed to be tidy, sterile, and urban. I’m sure of it. Maybe this was a terrific mistake, wonderful in the stories it’s given me, but just a scientific experiment. Thanks for the memories, No Name Farm/Ranch, but it’s time to go back to the “real” world and write my paper about the effect of the country on the psyche of a city girl. See ya.
But maybe not. I had a doctor’s appointment this morning. I dragged myself downtown, aching in my back, in my legs, in all of my bruises, and in some tiny little corners of my heart. It’s been a rough week. The doctor asked about my bruises and cuts and, without hesitation, I puffed up and said, “They’re from my baby goats, my flock of chickens, my pompous donkey, my aggressive heifer, the weeds in my garden, the jagged pieces of my fencing. They’re from my life.” She sucked in her breath, pen poised above my chart, wavering in the air for a second before quickly saying, “Alrighty then! Let’s just say ‘injuries due to farming,’ ok?” I said ok. Because it actually sounded pretty great to me. Besides, the reality is that I hate martinis, and chances are good I’d kill Kitty the houseplant.